Today, your computer keyboard uses the QWERTY system, (the first six letters on the top line of your keyboard). It is a carryover from the mechanical typewriter that most of us older folk remember. The first commercially successful typewriter was invented and patented by four Milwaukee Wisconsin men in 1868 . It was produced by E. Remington and sons.
The “Chicago typewriter” however was quite different, something never needing paper or an ink ribbon . Its use on Valentine’s Day February 14, 1929 is legend. It. Like a mechanical typewriter, it was well used to send a message. The Chicago typewriter is a slang term for the Thompson submachine gun which from a distance sound somewhat like a typewriter.
Horsecars, cable cars and streetcars needed a place to sleep at night. They had been called trolley barns, car barns, car houses or more recently bus barns. Some are still around in Chicago, but many of the early structures are long gone or have been repurposed.
One such “trolley barn” was a modest brick building at 329 Lincoln Ave. on Chicago’s North side. About 1909, Chicago renumbered all streets, so 329 Lincoln became 2356 N. Lincoln.
This building housed horse-drawn street cars owned by the North Chicago Street Railway Co. serving both the Fullerton and Lincoln Avenue lines and possibly others. The first horsecar line in Chicago opened on State Street in 1859, replacing the even earlier horse-drawn omnibuses. One of the benefits of the horse drawn streetcars was the use of fixed rails in the streets, enabling the horsecars to travel slightly faster and providing the passengers with a somewhat smoother ride. Horse-drawn streetcars also predated the short era of cable cars in Chicago which ended in 1906 only to be replaced by electric streetcars.
After its life as a “trolley barn” it had several later tenants. In 1916 it was home to the 1st Battalion Engineers and the Battery Field Artillery of the National Guard. In 1921 trucks were being sold out of that location. Rent in 1926 was only $125. it was used as a warehouse, the Steiner furniture store circa 1952 and the Bargain Center warehouse.
And finally in about 1969 the old trolley barn was converted to a theater.
And as Paul Harvey would say “and now for the rest of the story”
2356 N. Lincoln began became the Kingston Mines theater one of the first theater companies to be part of the storefront theater scene along Lincoln Ave., Halsted, and other nearby Northside streets. It was named after an actual town of Kingston Mines Illinois in central Illinois.
On February 5, 1971, in that old trolley barn, the Kingston Mines Theater Company premiered a play written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. The play was Grease!